Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 28, 1954
NUMBER 37, PAGE 1,8b-9

The Herald Of Truth And The Scriptures

James W. Adams

"Where the scriptures speak, we speak. Where the scriptures are silent, we are silent." This is a worthy slogan the sentiment of which is of divine origin. Paul said, "These things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written." (1 Cor. 4:6) If Brother Buchanan can and does in his article justify "The Herald of Truth" by the scriptures, all opposition to it should cease and full cooperation with it should everywhere prevail. We shall see if he does so.

Can Churches Unite To Act?

Brother Buchanan believes that they can unite in the eldership of one local church to perform a work to which all bear equal relationship. Our digressive brethren of the Christian Church believe that they can all unite to act through a board of members of various contributing churches duly selected by those churches through their representatives in convention assembled. The only difference between Brother Buchanan and our digressive brethren is that he believes the official board of the cooperation must all be members of one church and that they are self-appointed whereas our digressive brethren believe that the official board may be composed of members from various churches and selected by delegates from the churches who cooperate. Of course, Brother Buchanan allows Brother Kendrick from the College Church to slip under the wire and become treasurer of "The Herald of Truth." One system is "taxation without representation." The other is "taxation with representation." One is chartered under the laws of the state and formally organized. The other is informally organized, but none the less unscriptural by virtue of being so. Churches cannot scripturally operate to perform their own work through other churches. In this sense, they cannot unite to act. Concurrent action in a common field, yes, but confederacy, no! Brother Buchanan suggests that since we are told to "pray everywhere" (I Tim. 2:1-8) that churches can unite to act through 'Herald of Truth." He says, "What is there about which we can unite in prayer that we cannot scripturally unite to help?" Here is the answer, Brother Buchanan: We can unite in prayer for the conversion of the heathen, but we cannot unite to act in a missionary society to accomplish that for which we pray. Brother Buchanan is guilty of sophistry and a common fallacy of argumentation in his reasoning. He assumes that because churches can pray for the same thing that they can also use their own judgment as to how they unite in accomplishing that for which they pray. He simply assumes the thing that he must prove; namely, that it is scriptural for 1,000 churches to delegate their responsibilities in the preaching of the gospel via radio to one church. If Brother Buchanan preaches the gospel by radio to the people of Dallas under the oversight of the elders of Hampton Place Church and I preach the gospel by radio (the same gospel) under the supervision of the elders of Central Church to the people of Beaumont, we are uniting to act in the scriptural sense of that expression. We are cooperating in the grandest work in the world. We can unite to act without Central Church having to send its contributions to Hampton Place that they might have Brother Buchanan preach the gospel in Beaumont. Amalgamation, confederacy, pooling of resources smacks of Rome, not of Jerusalem.

Too Big To Be Right

Our brother takes many side roads that have a tendency to cloud the issue. Perhaps he thinks they are germane. No. "'The Herald of Truth" is not opposed because of the "bigness" of the work. The bigger the work a local church can perform, the better it is. It is not the bigness, but the unscriptural combination of many churches that is opposed. Brother Buchanan raises another interesting question that has been worked to death in the cooperation controversy among the churches. He says, "Is it possible for several churches to work together and to act in concert without losing their independence, autonomy, and identity as local churches?" No one opposes churches working together. No one opposes churches working in concert. It is churches combining to work through a single eldership that is opposed. Brother Buchanan assumes as has every other writer who defends his position on that question that because a church still runs its own local affairs, still exists as a local church, and cooperates voluntarily in such efforts as "The Herald of Truth" that makes the arrangement a scriptural work. May I respectfully suggest that the Christian churches which affiliate with the United Christian Missionary Society are still independent churches, they still run their own local affairs, they retain their identity as local churches, and their participation in the affairs of the society are purely voluntary. Hence, if such makes "The Herald of Truth" scriptural, it also justifies the missionary society. At this point in our study, it is thought good to introduce an article that appeared in the Millennial Harbinger, October, 1850, with A. Campbell's endorsement. Arguments are made in the defense of the cooperation meetings which culminated in the society so like the arguments of our brethren for present cooperative efforts that it certainly illustrates our introductory thought of "history triumphing over time."

Cooperation Meetings

"The following condensed and very sensible views of the editors of Christian Magazine, we commend to our brethren, on cooperation meetings." — A. C.

"Much has been written and spoken on cooperation. The writer could not claim, indeed, a tithe of that wisdom which has, in divers instances, exhausted its efforts in setting forth both the propriety and necessity of cooperation, still he believes that more ought to be said and even repeated; that 'line upon line and precept upon precept' are emphatically requisite to the proper understanding of the subject. Many, very many, still misapprehend the whole intention of our State and other meetings, not, we would hope, willfully, but because they have been alarmed by the ghostly creations of their own fancies.

"What is the design of Cooperation Meetings?"

1. They are not designed to interfere with the perfect and untrammeled independence of any congregation of Christ whatever, whether rich or poor, influential or obscure.

2. They are not designed to frame or devise a creed, church covenant, or articles of faith, or in any degree to infringe upon the fullest exercise of the divine right of private interpretation.

3. They do not claim the slightest authority to legislate as to any ordinance, custom or usage, that must or must not be observed by the churches of Christ.

4. They do not claim any right to excommunicate or in any degree disfellowship any congregation that may think proper to refuse participation in their measures or recommendations.

5. They are not designed to establish any tests of Christian character, nor to decide who are or are not evangelists, bishops or deacons, nor in any sense to interfere with the action of any congregation with reference to sending forth preachers of the word.

6. They do not claim any authority to arbitrate the differences that may exist between different members of the same congregation, or between distinct congregations.

7. They have not authority to enforce any recommendation or plan of expediency, and their resolutions must be regarded, not as decrees or laws, but as simply propositions to the churches, with whom resides all power.

8. They are not designed to permanently concentrate power and money in the hands of a few. As a matter of fact they have never done so, nor is it possible that they ever can.

9. They are not intended to give a separate and independent existence to anybody ecclesiastic.

10. They are not designed to divert the means of the brotherhood from necessary and beneficial local operations, but rather to encourage and build up these local efforts.

"On The Other Hand-

1. They are intended to ascertain the true condition of the various congregations cooperating, and show the state of the cause in any given section. Without true, reliable knowledge of these matters, it is impossible to know either what ought to be done, or what can be done.

2. They are designed to secure the training and organization of those brethren who are scattered throughout the country, who do not enjoy Christian instruction, and who are unable to provide for it.

3. They are intended to bring the small means of individual congregations together, and to accomplish with these united means what no one congregation could effect.

4. They are intended to secure, as far as possible, the accomplishment of the church's mission: 'Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'

5. They are designed to secure system and efficacy of action in the place of irregularity and inefficacy.

6. They are designed to unite the brotherhood, not by a system of consolidation, but by the influence of truth, love and harmony.

7. They are designed, by congregating the talents of the churches, to elicit the truth on such subjects as come up for action, and then to disseminate this truth.

8. They are to be instrumental in setting on foot the best ways and means of carrying out what are confessedly the duties of the church of Christ 9. They are designed to refresh the spirits of the holy brethren, to give words of encouragement to the weary, wisdom to the inexperienced, strength to the weak, humility to the proud, and to shed over all the genial influences of fraternal love.

"Brethren in Christ of the various congregations in Tennessee — Have you appointed your delegates to our next State meeting? If you have not, we earnestly and affectionately ask you to consider the following questions:

1. Can the great objects and purposes of our organization as Christian congregations, be secured without cooperative effort? Can the gospel be preached to the destitute, even in Tennessee, without cooperation?

2. If not, and we refuse to come up to this work with our prayers, our presence and our means, will not our Master in Heaven justly condemn us as unworthy stewards of the Kingdom of Heaven?

3. Because general meetings may be abused, is that any reason to a Christian man why they should not be used at all?

4. Is it not true that the fears which have been conjured up on this subject are purely fanciful, and is there a single fact going to show that cooperation meetings, as held by Christian brethren, are of dangerous tendency?

5. Will a single church in Tennessee refuse to let her sister churches know where she is, her condition, the success of the gospel in her bounds, and such other facts as she may judge interesting to be known?

6. Will not some brother in each congregation lay the truth on this subject before his brethren, remove their objections, and induce them to act, and to act boldly and energetically?

"'Go up,' said the Lord to a certain people, 'and possess the land.'

"They went not up — alas! whither did they go? Back to the wilderness to wander amid its arid sands, its howling wastes, forty long years. "Brethren, we many possess the land, if we will go up. Will we do so as one man, or plunge back into the deserts of doubt and apprehension, and driveling, cowardly fear, and provoke the Lord that he take the honor from us and give it to a generation more worthy of him." — J. E.

After this fashion did one of the editors of Christian Magazine (J. B. Ferguson's paper 1848-53) write concerning cooperation in his day. But for the fact that it is much better written than most of the defenses made these days of such like, one would think that he was defending "The Herald of Truth" or the "Lubbock or Memphis Plan." The Cooperation Meetings became the Society and the Society divided the church with the help of the music question. The music question would have gained no headway, however, but for the corruption of the organization and government of the church which preceded it.

Every point, every claim, every argument now made by those who defend our so-called, "cooperative" movements were made to defend the developing missionary society which divided God's people. Brethren, seriously, are we not rolling back the tides of time and recreating the past in the present? God forbid, but it appears to be so from where I sit! Reference will be made time and again to the preceding article as we continue our review of Brother Buchanan on "The Herald of Truth." Preserve it and refer to it. Our readers may consider these articles long and drawn out, but I am in no hurry. We have waited a long time before saying anything, now, we do not propose to cut short what we do have to say, as we will be seeing you again next week.